Diabetes and Stress: A Vicious Cycle
Stress is your body’s way of reacting to pressure, and is not always a negative thing. In small amounts, stress motivates us and provides the extra bit of energy we need to do our best — like before a competition or important work presentation. However, stress can overtake our lives when poorly managed or in excessive amounts. It can make you feel exhausted, irritable and impulsive, leading you to make poor lifestyles choices which might in turn make it harder for you to control your blood glucose.
The 4 “Rs” of Managing Stress
Diabetes management is much more than monitoring and controlling blood glucose levels. To get a good handle of your condition, you’ll need to take a more holistic approach including learning how to manage or respond to stressful situations.
Here are a few quick and easy ways to effectively reduce stress.
RE-vive Your Mind
- Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing to refocus.
- Practice mindfulness. Whatever you are doing, be aware of the present moment. Calmly acknowledge and accept your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
- Take breaks like doodling and listening to music to clear your mind and create positive emotions.
RE-charge Your Body
- Exercise to release tension from stiff muscles.
- Get enough sleep to “reset” your body to face the challenges of a new day.
RE-work Your Schedule
- Plan your time and resources so you can fit in all aspects of diabetes management like checking blood glucoselevels, taking medication, exercising regularly and eating well.
- Join a support group to gain support and coping tips on dealing with diabetes-related stress.
- Connect with loved ones, friends or a helping professional so they can help you see different perspectives to your situation.
Stress Is Not the Enemy
Remember that stress is not the enemy. Quite the opposite, stress can motivate and drive you to carry out the daily tasks and routines essential to managing diabetes.
The key is to know your stressors and take one small step at a time to manage them effectively. Soon, you’ll be able to turn life stressors into useful life experiences, and use them to build your resilience and inner strength.
The trick is to manage your stress in ways that work for you. There is no “right way” to manage stress. Use methods and techniques that suit your personality and lifestyle.
And plan! Planning really helps. Making the time for exercise, nutritious meals, checking your blood glucose levels or taking your insulin will help you through challenging or difficult moments.
Stay optimistic and positive. People with diabetes do lead enriching and fulfilling lives too!
 Cummings, D. M., Kirian, K., Howard, G., Howard, V., Yuan, Y., Muntner, P., et al. (2016, Jan). Consequences of Comorbidity of Elevated Stress and/or Depressive Symptoms and Incident Cardiovascular Outcomes in Diabetes: Results From the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study.Diabetes Care, 39(1), p 101-109. Retrieved December 2016 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26577418/.  Saraei, F. H., Hatami, H., & Bagheri, F. (2016, Jul). Effectiveness of Stress Management on Glycemic Control and Change of some of Mental Health Indicators (Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Quality of Life) among Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Mediterranean Journal of Social Science, 7(4), p 258-265. Retrieved December 2016 from http://www.mcser.org/journal/index.php/mjss/article/viewFile/9319/8999/.
“Diabetes and Stress Problems” by Health Promotion Board © HealthHub